Beat the crowds: Oman
Oman isn’t one of the world’s most famous or popular holiday destinations, but if you’re willing to take a chance and get off the beaten track, this Middle Eastern sultanate will hugely reward you. A spectacular country with an incredibly rich cultural heritage, desert terrain, and an impossibly evocative mountainous skyline, you’d be hard pressed not to be blown away. The culture shocks are plentiful and wonderful: from the evocative souks and the opulent Grand Mosque to the fact you’ll be presented with dates wherever you go.
From the stunning capital of Muscat, take day trips into the desert to explore more of the country, see camels and exotic birds, and learn about the Bedouin tribes who still live there. Or there’s the option of a toasty beach break in the Arabian Sea resorts of Salalah, or head to the mountains for some much-needed serenity instead.
The Citybond team has put together a handy guide to beating the crowds to this unforgettable destination.
Planning your trip
Oman is a scorching destination, so it’s best to avoid the months between June and August, when temperatures frequently soar to 40C or over. Spring and autumn are warm and mostly dry with average highs hitting between 25C and 35C, making this the best time to visit. Brits need a visa to visit Oman. You can apply for an e-visa before you travel with the Royal Oman Police Portal. Remember: when entering Oman, your passport should have at least six months’ validity remaining. It’s important to bear in mind, when travelling with medication, that some prescribed and over-the-counter medicines from the UK are banned in Oman. So be sure to check if your medication is allowed before you travel and carry a copy of your prescription.
What to do
Oman is an incredible cultural destination, but it also provides an otherworldly setting for travellers with a taste for adventure. Take a day trip to the famous Wadi Ash Shab to hike in the rocky surrounds before dipping in to the vibrantly blue water. Or jump in a 4x4 for a tour around the Sharqiya Sands: a desert region home to the nomadic Bedouin people, as well as camels and exotic birds. Then there are the evocative souks. These huge bazaars are perfect for picking out souvenirs while soaking up the buzzing atmosphere. The Mutrah Souk in Muscat is believed to be one of the longest-running markets in the Arabian world. Here you’ll find everything from clothing, to spices and antiques.
What to see
You won’t be short on cultural sights on a trip to Oman. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is unmissable for those who want to understand more about the Islamic religion, featuring a stunning golden dome that stands out on the Muscat skyline. As the largest mosque in Oman, this spectacular 2001 building can accommodate a staggering 20,000 worshippers. History buffs won’t want to miss the Nizwa Fort, which dates back to 1600, and the mud brick Bahla Fort: a UNESCO-listed site at the foot of the Jebel Akhdar highlands built by the Banu Nebhan tribe, who stayed in the area from the 12th to 15th centuries.
Where to stay
The Omani capital of Muscat, endlessly rich in culture, is a must for visitors to this enchanting Middle Eastern destination. Luxury travellers will find it hard to beat the five-star Kempinski Hotel Muscat, nestled within the coastal community of Al Mouj. This hotel boasts myriad amenities, including world-class bars and restaurants, a spa and fitness centre and a private bowling and entertainment centre. Looking for a beach holiday in Oman and got a budget to stick to? The Beach Resort Salalah Hotel provides a lower-cost but comfortable option in Salalah, the capital of southern Oman’s Dhofar governorate. In this city you’ll find banana plantations, desert terrain, and - vitally - gorgeous beaches on the Arabian Sea.
What to eat
If you love world cuisine, you’re in for a treat in Oman. Majboos is a favourite around the Arabic world, particularly in Gulf nations like Oman. This yummy dish incorporates basmati rice, veggies, meat, and a heady mix of spices. Eat with yoghurt or bread and tomato sauce for a truly delicious experience. Carnivores visiting Oman shouldn’t miss out on the shuwa: grilled meat is marinated in spices, wrapped in banana leaves, and cooked in an underground sand oven for two days. If you’re vegan or veggie, don’t worry. People in Oman absolutely love dates, which are picked locally. They’re eaten raw, mixed with sesame paste or ground coconut and also used to prepare many Omani sweets and desserts. If you visit a local house, you’ll likely be presented with some – happily, it’s an Omani tradition.
Wherever you plan on heading to over the coming months it’s good to know that Citybond Suretravel is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.
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